After extensive research and investigation, I'm beginning to pinpoint exactly the most troubled area in the Nationals' line of defense, second baseman. Adam Kennedy and Christian Guzman have a combined 12 errors playing 2B for the Nationals, which would be the most for a 2B if it were one person. The Nationals are paying $8 million for Guzman and $1.25 million for Kennedy to play second base. For a combined $9.25M, the Nationals are receiving a league-leading 12 errors with a combined .268 batting average, 112 hits, 3 home runs, 38 RBI with a combined .324 on-base percentage and .351 slugging percentage. Despite the 112 hits (between two players), that's a pretty decent offensive production from a second baseman, but the defense is just not there. I'm pretty confident that if Nationals for instance, brought up Danny Espinosa tomorrow and played him for the entire second half, he could probably do the same. But that is not a good solution. Espinosa is not ready for the majors. These are a few viable options for Nats' GM Mike Rizzo to consider next year (or maybe mid-season) to finally bring an end to the perpetual search for a second baseman.
The Nationals would love to sign Orlando Hudson, but "O-Dawg" wants to play for a contender. He is making about $5 million this year and been hitting .285 with 67 hits, 3 HR's, 17 RBI's with a .356 on-base percentage and a .387 slugging percentage, along with playing his usual stellar second base. His fielding percentage is .993, with just two errors.
Another option, who I personally think would be a great fit, is David Eckstein. His brother,Rick, is the hitting coach for the Nationals. Eckstein, 36, is making $850,000 this year for the Padres and will be a free agent in 2011. Eckstein is hitting .274 with 76 hits, 1 HR, 20 RBI's with a .324 on-base percentage and a .350 slugging percentage. Eckstein's fielding percentage is an amazing .997, with just one error.
Prado will be difficult to pry from the Braves, as he is having a career year, batting .334, with 108 hits, 7 HR's, 31 RBI's and a .376 on-base percentage and a .477 slugging percentage. Prado is also sporting a .994 fielding percentage with just two errors. Prado has a one-year contract worth $440,000, and the Braves will surely try to sign him long-term.
Kelly Johnson is hitting .262, with 71 hits, 13 HR's, 35 RBI's with a .368 on-base percentage and a .491 slugging percentage. Johnson has a .983 fielding percentage, with 5 errors. He is under a one-year contract, making $2.35 million annually. Johnson seems to be a decent option in the field, better than Guzman/Kennedy, but his only advantage at the plate is his pop, which could be attributed to the daily, 100 + degree heat at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ.
The most attractive option for the Nats, is David Eckstein. Although he is older, he will be sufficient in the lineup and stellar in the field. That could really help a Nationals defense which has come accustomed to committing multiple errors a night. More than anything, the addition of Eckstein could change the defensive attitude of the ball club, much like Pudge has thus far.
If you consider that if Ian Desmond learns from his major-league leading 18 errors thus far, for the second half and into 2011, the Nationals defense could make a big rebound in 2011. They're heading in the right direction, they just need to bring it to the next level.